Gum contouring (also known as lifting or reshaping) is a cosmetic dental treatment in that it is aimed at improving the appearance of a patient’s smile rather than being necessary for the patient’s dental health.
It is usually used to correct a ‘gummy smile’ where too much of the gum covers the teeth. A gummy smile can greatly affect the self-confidence but gum contouring – usually with a laser although it is possible to do it surgically – is a relatively quick and painless procedure to correct this condition. It can be also used to correct an uneven gumline.
Another cosmetic gum treatment is a gum graft to treat receding gums. This condition is potentially much more serious as it may result in teeth becoming loose and falling out.
Am I suitable?
A gummy smile can be caused by a variety of things, including genetics, some health conditions, and even the use of some common high blood pressure medications.
Receding gums can also be causes by a wide variety of things, such as excessive brushing, gum disease (gingivitis and peridontis), teeth grinding, eating disorders and smoking.
What’s the treatment like?
Gum contouring; a local anaesthetic is applied to the gums and a laser is used to trim away the small amounts of excess gum tissue and reshape the edges of the gums at the front. The laser seals the blood vessels in the gums at the same time. It usually takes about an hour to perform.
Gum graft; the dentist takes a small piece of gum tissue and transfers it to cover the receding gums. This tissue then heals around the root surface.
What about after?
Gum contouring is seen as relatively quick and painless and, as the laser seals blood vessels as it is working, there is little bleeding and the gums heal very quickly as a result. If you are having a graft then any discomfort should settle down after a week.
Are there any risks or side effects?
Not all dentists offer these procedures so it is best to check credentials and experience. A gum specialist is called a periodontist. Gum contouring is relatively safe but in some instances too much gum is removed which can cause problems and may entail further procedures.
Gum grafts are relatively safe with high success rates.
What will it cost me?
Prices usually start from £120 for gum contouring. A gum graft is more expensive and will cost about £500.